If we stop to take an honest look at ourselves, we’d no doubt realize that on most days, we lie to the world and ourselves about the freedom thats found in Jesus Christ and the transformational power of our faith.
We constantly strive to “be a better Christian.” We choose to identify with our pasts and our mistakes, over and over again. We allow our circumstances to dictate our joy. We act on our feelings rather than God’s promises and truth. We fight to keep our Checklist of Christian rules- Do’s and Don’t. We barter with God, making sacrifices in order to get closer to him!
But the reality is, no amount of “religiousity” can save us because it’s not by your works or good deeds that we will get to heaven. And it’s not by how well we follow the rules, that makes us special or chosen in the eyes of the Lord. No amount of “religiousity” can bring us into closer aligned with God because Jesus cannot love you any more or any less than he does right this very minute.
You see, by striving and making it about ourselves, you’re saying that what Jesus did on the cross, for you and I personally, was not enough! We’re doubting his truth and promise of , “It is finished,” and allowing our actions to declare – to ourselves and the world – that it’s up to us to set things right.
“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.” Romans 8: 5-8
But that’s missing the gospel entirely, my friend! We trick ourselves into thinking that it’s about what we can do for him, that makes us holier and more intimate with Jesus. But that’s a lie.
We deminish the gospel to a to-do list- a Christian grade card we’re constantly striving to perfect.
To the world, we’re saying that being a christian is about chasing perfection [a no doubt different version than the world strives for but none the less, the same impossible pursuit] and doing “good works!”
Can’t we get this friends. It’s not about acts or words or deeds or RULES! God gave us the commandments to show us our deperate need for a saviour. He knew we couldn’t keep them and we’d fail miserably trying. Adam and Eve couldn’t even keep one simple rule, “Don’t eat from the tree of life!” But because of our innate errogance and pride, we keep striving to keep them! So God piles on more…. 10 rules in Exodus [The ten commandments] and 200 in levititcus, to name a FEW! “My child, why can’t you see that you need me?” If you’d just stop trying, for 5 minutes and listen to me.. truly listen to me…you’d see you’re already free!”
“God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.” Romans 8: 3-5 MSG
You see, the law was used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. It was no means to an end. But God made a way, through Jesus. And now, what the law code asks of us, yet we could never deliver, is accomplished! Instead of relying on our own efforts, we can simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in and through us.
The rules were simply made to show us we need Jesus, no matter who we are or the “super powers” we possess.
‘Cause when we finally see Jesus as our way “out” [ ie: the answer to every problem], ask for forgiveness and truly welcome him in our hearts, the slate is wiped clean and theres no more need for trying. Not only our past, but every wrong and sinful thing we’ll do in the future, is forgiven! Because God knows every word and deed we’ll do before we even think them!
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will [seriously] remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:34
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” Psalm 139:1,4
We are made new. Heck, we mind as well be given a new DNA! We’re made righteous and holy, and God looks upon us with the same affection and acceptance as he does Jesus, his perfect son! He looks at the pile of junk we’ve made and says “Wow. You really did a number, didn’t you? [Insert chuckle and humorous tone] But that’s ok. I’ll love you no matter if that piles 10 feet high or 100. Because you’re mine.”
But I know what you’re thinking, “If you only knew the things I’ve done!” “But I’m so far from where I need to be” “I hardly share my faith and I’m so caught up in my own world” “What I do is insignificant in the kingdom of God” “I can hardly remember to say my prayers, let alone read my bible and flee from my weaknesses.” “I’m stuck and I can seem to stop sinning!”
Friend, none of that matters one bit. Jesus already knows and he loves you just the same….. today, tomorrow and always. It’s your heart that he wants, not your condition! You don’t need to “fix yourself and your situation” first.
So, take a deep breath and say with me now, “I can’t screw this up!”
It’s time we all stop striving and take rest in the victory of the cross! ‘Cause All he wants is everything and nothing, at the very same time….
*inspired and adapted from Bart Millard of Mercy Me, live in Concert | Abbotsford October 2013